Monday, March 11, 2002

Nader: Citizens can bring change

By William A. Weathers
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The key to curtailing pollution and preserving natural resources lies with citizen involvement, Ralph Nader told an audience of 1,200 at Xavier University Sunday.

        “It starts with our sense of significance as citizens,” Mr. Nader said at the Cintas Center.

        The public can't rely on the government or giant corporations to do the job, he said.

        Speaking for more than an hour about globalization and environmental justice, the 68-year-old internationally known consumer advocate and author reminded his audience that the atmosphere, rivers, radio, federal forests and parks, and television airways are owned by the public.

        The problem is, said Mr. Nader, “We own it. We don't control it.”

        The federal government routinely gives away public lands to big corporations, selling mining interests, for example, for as little as $5 per acre, the former presidential candidate said.

        “There is no Third World country that gives away its natural resources cheaper than the United States,” he argued.

        Mr. Nader lamented the failure of technological advancement in pollution-free forms of energy.

        He told the crowd that he recalled attending the 1939 World's Fair in New York as a child and seeing a General Motors exhibit on the car of the future that would operate without the polluting internal combustion engine.

        “We're still waiting,” he said, drawing chuckles from the audience.

        “Why isn't solar energy moving ahead?“ he asked. “We have to put solar energy on the front burner.

        Citizens need to regard pollution in a different light, Mr. Nader said.

        “Environmental devastation is a form of violence,” he said.

        Tonight, Mr. Nader appears in a panel discussion at Xavier on world affairs and the environment.


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